Evening became night and night became that time that is neither night nor morning. Elise's contractions got big and painful and the nurse didn't like the baby's heartbeat. She made hushed calls to the attending physician and Elise was hooked to an IV and given oxygen and painkillers. The mood in the room became desperate. Or, I felt desperate. As Elise curled on her side and closed her eyes I felt her slipping from me. My favorite person in the world lay there humming to herself and I could not reach her. I could only hold her hand and be alone with my worry in the dim light of an anonymous hospital room with the tail lights of the early morning traffic on the highway outside slowly blinking past.
It got light. Elise got an epidural, I got a coffee. Our ageless Chinese midwife showed up looking rested and cheerful. I like her, but didn't then. After an hour of checking Elise's dilation she said, "Okay, feel like pushing?" Elise, opening her eyes, said, "Yes, please."